Nobody who has seen Ben Askren fight, or knows about his pedigree as one of the best collegiate wrestlers of recent vintage, would refer to him as a striker.

Duke Roufus, one of the game's best striking coaches, says those folks are in for a surprise.

Wrestling is always going to be the staple for Askren, the Bellator welterweight champion and a member of Team USA in the 2008 Olympics at Beijing. But those who saw Askren in his early days could see an accomplished striker when he defends his title tonight at Bellator 64 in Windsor, Canada, against Douglas Lima.

"He has hammers for hands," Roufus said. "I've sparred with Ben myself and I was unpleasantly surprised after getting hit by him. A lot of people sleep on Ben's striking. He's not an intimidating looking guy and he looks just like an average Joe. But believe me when I tell you, we have a lot of really good strikers at Roufusport and they'll all attest that he's a formidable opponent striking."

Askren was 8-0 and already the Bellator champion when he started to work with Roufus in August. With a fight slated in two months, Roufus didn't want to tear Askren's game apart completely.

He added little touches as best he could to prepare Askren for his bout with Jay Hieron, which he won by split decision.

But with five months of work in the gym, Roufus said it will be a different man on display tonight.

"He's got a great aptitude for fighting and he is one of those guys who, day after day, you see the improvement," Roufus said. "He picks up on the little things real well and you can see it. It's ridiculous how he picks up on things."

Askren has worked assiduously to make himself into a complete fighter. He was devastated after losing in the Olympics and had a difficult time accepting it. He decided to try MMA, knowing that if he didn't care for it, he could still continue preparations for the 2012 London Games.

And while he admittedly doesn't have the passion for MMA that he had for wrestling, he decided last year to concentrate full-time on it. After a glorious wrestling career in which he won two high school state championships, two NCAA Division I championships at Missouri and represented his country in the Olympics, he knew it wouldn't be easy to walk into another sport and have the same success.

As a competitor, though, he felt compelled to try. He's one of the sport's best wrestlers, clearly, but he's become a brown belt already in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his striking is coming on.

"I've wrestled my whole life and I worked a long time and very hard to get those [NCAA titles]," Askren said. "Obviously, that was the pinnacle of a lifetime of work. In MMA, I'm trying to do the same thing. I want to push myself every day and see how far I can take this."

He faces a tough challenge in Lima, a Brazilian who trained with UFC veteran Brian Stann in Atlanta. Lima is a hard hitter who knocked out Ben Saunders in November in the welterweight tournament final to earn the shot at Askren.

Askren knows he has to respect Lima's punching power, but Roufus pointed out that his fighter is a lot more versatile.

"I can go in my gym and find a guy who can do what Douglas Lima can do and we can give Ben work and get him ready," Roufus said. "But where is Lima going to find a guy like Ben, with his level of wrestling and his level of jiu-jitsu and who punches as hard as Ben does? That's a lot harder to find."

strong>Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Shootout between Tiger and Rory McIlroy has yet to materialize at Masters
Stan Van Gundy exposes Dwight Howard's power play for a new Magic coach
NFL culture change was coming even before Gregg Williams' infamous speech
Will Arkansas fans forgive Bobby Petrino or run him out of town?

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Former champ Douglas Lima meets Chidi Njokuani at Bellator 156 in June

  • 29 days ago
  • 5 views

Bellator’s summer return to Fresno, Calif., has its latest fight, and it will feature a former welterweight champion.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Bellator 157: Dynamite 2 heads to St. Louis in June with 'Rampage' vs. Satoshi Ishii

  • 29 days ago
  • 6 views

Bellator has set the date for its second MMA and kickboxing crossover event, and it will feature the return of Quinton Jackson to the promotion.Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, News, read news >>

Rampage Jackson Returns to Bellator vs. Satoshi Ishii in Dynamite 2 Headliner

  • 29 days ago
  • 15 views

After a year out of action, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson returns to Bellator to headline the promotion's second hybrid event, Dynamite 2. read news >>

Fighting in Italy, Bellator 152's Brian Rogers won't leave anything to chance vs. Sakara

  • 29 days ago
  • 15 views

Brian Rogers said he’s honored to co-headline Bellator’s first overseas event when Bellator 152 goes down later this month. He also knows it’s a big risk.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Douglas Lima Faces Chidi Njokuani in Bellator 156 Co-Main Event

  • 29 days ago
  • 0 views

A duo of Bellator MMA’s top welterweights, Chidi Njokuani and Douglas Lima, will square off in the co-main event of “Bellator 156: Galvao vs. Dantas 2” on June 17. read news >>

Derrick Lewis still looking to be as sharp as his sense of humor (Yahoo Sports)

  • 29 days ago
  • 1 views

From Yahoo Sports: The UFC heavyweight has won two in a row, but says he’s still working to reach his potential. read news >>

Derrick Lewis still looking to be as sharp as his sense of humor (Yahoo Sports)

  • 29 days ago
  • 9 views

From Yahoo Sports: The UFC heavyweight has won two in a row, but says he’s still working to reach his potential. read news >>

Dada 5000: 'I Died' in the Cage During Bellator Fight with Kimbo Slice

  • 29 days ago
  • 25 views

Dhafir Harris, better known to the world as MMA fighter Dada 5000, was clinically dead at the end of his February fight with Kimbo Slice at Bellator 149. That's according to Dada himself, who wrote i read news >>

Dada 5000 claims he suffered 2 heart attacks during Bellator 149 headliner vs. Kimbo Slice

  • 29 days ago
  • 66 views

The medical troubles suffered by Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris in the wake of Bellator 149’s headliner were apparently even worse than previously reported.Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News read news >>

Dada 5000 Claims He Had Two Heart Attacks and Died in the Bellator Cage

  • 29 days ago
  • 10 views

Dada 5000 posted on social media on Wednesday to let everyone know just how grave his health situation was when he fought Kimbo Slice at Bellator 149. read news >>